Ancient underground city accidentally found in northeastern Iran

(ORDO NEWS) — Workers working on a routine road construction project near Shahr-e-Belqays (city of Belqays) in northeastern Iran have made an unexpected discovery.

Shahr-e-Belkeis is a castle located in the Esfarayen district in the province of North Khorasan, Iran. The fortress dates back to the Sasanian Empire.

It is the second largest adobe fort in Iran after the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bam Fortress. Archaeological excavations of Belkeys cover an area of ​​more than 51,000 square meters.

“A few days ago, during the construction of a road in the village of Bam, Esfarayen district, the remains of ancient underground structures were discovered,” an expert from the archaeological department of the city of Belkeys said on Monday.

“The total length of this underground city is 18 km, in certain places there are baths and even mills. In recent years, traces of this underground city have been discovered and now we have reached these ancient structures.

Pottery found in the ruins is estimated to be from the Seljuk, Ilkhanid and even earlier periods. However, in order to penetrate its secrets, extensive archaeological excavations are needed.”

Shahr-e Belkeys flourished from the late Sassanid era to early Islamic times. Historical evidence, including a book on the history of Nishabur (Middle Persian: Nev-Shapur), testifies that Shahr-e Belkeys attracted the special attention of the Sasanian monarchs of the time.

Archaeological excavations on the nearby mountains and hilltops indicate the antiquity of Belkeys and its age is estimated at about 6000 years.

These medieval underground structures are not the first in Iran. Previously, the city of Nushabad, known to the locals as Uyi, was found, which is an underground city with many passages and rooms in the province of Isfahan in central Iran.

The construction of this man-made underground city, called Ui (or Oui), dates back to the time of the Sasanian (or neo-Persian) empire, which ruled from 224 to 651.

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